US To Ease Sanctions Against Burma

The United States has announced that it will ease some sanctions against Burma.

US To Ease Sanctions Against BurmaThe United States has announced that it will ease some sanctions against Burma.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said some travel and financial restrictions would be relaxed, with Burmese leaders allowed to visit the US.

European Union leaders had said earlier on Wednesday that they would consider taking similar steps.

The news follows by-elections in Burma on Sunday in which an opposition party headed by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi took the majority of the seats.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) took 40 out of 45 seats in the polls, which were generally deemed to be free and fair.

In response to Burma's democratic reforms, Ms Clinton said the US would take steps to open an office of the Agency for International Development in the country and send a full ambassador.

Political prisoners

At a summit of the regional Asean grouping on Wednesday, Asian leaders called for all sanctions against Burma to be lifted immediately to help the country's political and economic development.

Speaking in London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said EU members would probably be willing to lift some of their sanctions on Burma.

"That does not mean an instant and complete opening up of trade with Burma," he added.

Mr Hague said he would keep up pressure on Burma to free political prisoners.

Although the NLD won a landslide victory in Sunday's polls, the result barely makes a dent in the ruling military's dominance of parliament.

The army and its proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) still hold about 80% of seats in parliament.